Methanogens in Hydroelectric Dams

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Introduction

Electron micrograph of the Ebola Zaire virus. This was the first photo ever taken of the virus, on 10/13/1976. By Dr. F.A. Murphy, now at U.C. Davis, then at the CDC.


By Claire Sears

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Legend/credit: Electron micrograph of the Ebola Zaire virus. This was the first photo ever taken of the virus, on 10/13/1976. By Dr. F.A. Murphy, now at U.C. Davis, then at the CDC. Every image requires a link to the source.
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Hydroelectric dams are often seen as a green, renewable energy solution to combat climate change; however, methanogenic bacteria growing in dam reservoirs produce methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. Only 3% of US reservoirs are hydroelectric. Others are for protection from floods and water storage. There is relatively little attention given to this source of greenhouse gas emission both in scientific study and in consideration of dam-building. So far, scientists have not had a standard and accurate way to measure emissions, but a study by Deemer et al. in 2016 developed a measurement strategy. This page will discuss the microbes responsible for the emissions from reservoirs and the factors that influence emission-levels, the measurement of emissions, and the implications for climate change and renewable energy innovation.[1]
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Authored for BIOL 238 Microbiology, taught by Joan Slonczewski, 2018, Kenyon College.